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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  March 5, 2014 1:00am-2:01am PST

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seeing happen here in florida with the marissa alexander case. >> mia jones and niaz kasravi from the naacp. that's "all in" for this evening. "the rachel maddow show" starts now. thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. i'm about to do something that's controversial to cable news. it shouldn't be controversial but in this business it is. i have to start with this warning. ready? i'm about to praise a rival cable news network. i know. shriek. horror. right? cnn today is not what it used to be. once upon a time, cnn really was the only cable news network. and they really did have a singular role in keeping people informed about what was going on not only around the country but around the world. at that time in cnn's history, that reputation that they had for keeping the world informed, it spurred one very
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controversial member of the u.s. house of representatives, a democrat, to propose that we as a nation should get rid of the cia altogether and should replace the cia with cnn. this was an amazing moment. watch this. >> speaker, the senate is about to confirm another director of the cia. even though america found out about the collapse of the soviet union on cnn. america learned the fall of the berlin wall on cnn. and america found out about saddam hussein's invasion of kuwait on cnn. but after all this, congress keeps pouring billions of dollars into that big sinkhole called the central intelligence agency. i say with a track record like that, congress doesn't need a budget committee, congress needs a proctologist. i think the record's real clear.
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congress should fire the cia and hire cnn. maybe we'll learn what's happening in the world. >> i still don't know what he meant by the proctologist thing, but that's kind of just the way he talked. that was congressman james traficant, democrat of ohio. he sadly is not even having one of his best hair days in that clip. james traficant's toupee, itself, is a thing of legend. james traficant was ultimately expelled from congress after convicted of bribery and false tax returns and racketeering and other corruption charges. he ended up serving seven years in prison. some of it without the hairdo. back in 1997 when he was talking about firing the cia and hiring cnn he was still a member in good standing of congress. and congress at that time was considering whether or not to confirm as director of the cia this man, george tenet, first appointed to the position by president bill clinton and kept on at the agency when george bush became president.
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though james traficant was right when he listed all of those things that the cia missed over time, things they did not see coming that day learned about by watching cnf like the rest of us, once those things had already happened, james traficant was right about the cia not seeing any of that stuff coming. it was george tenet whose nomination james traficant was opposing. who ultimately personified the cia's modern failure. >> george tenet sat in the oval office to ask him, how good is the case? the director of the cia said it's a slam dunk, mr. president, it's a slam dunk. >> it was not a slam dunk. it was not a lay-up or free throw or any other kind of shot in basketball that technically results in a scoring of any points. there were in weapons of mass destruction in iraq. the bush administration including vice president cheney wanted the cia to say that there
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were weapons of mass destruction in iraq so the cia said that, but it was complete bullpucky. they were completely wrong. on the heels of that failure, the iraq failure, the slam dunk failure, an author named tim weiner published this book about the history of the cia. titled "legacy of ashes." just a devastating history because it turns out over time it was not just the slam dunk thing in iraq, it was everything. going back to the beginning. the cia is the central intelligence agency. what they're supposed to be is an intelligent service. they're supposed to be america's spy agency. as spies, they're supposed to find out secrets. they're supposed to find out what other countries are doing in secret so the united states government has some advance notice about what's about to happen in the world. this is technically the reason they and every other spy agency in the world exists. they're supposed to steal secrets and let policymakers know when something is about to happen in the world. they're supposed to let u.s.
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policymakers know what is actually going on in the world despite what other countries might say publicly. but their track record on being able to do this, about the biggest issues in international affairs is a terrible track record. when the berlin wall fell and the soviet union collapsed, the cia really did learn about it on cnn. they were taken by surprise. the iranian revolution happened in 1979, the cia taken totally by surprise. when the soviet union invaded afghanistan in 1979, the cia, again, taken by surprise. go all the way back to 1949, web the soviet union exploded their first nuclear bomb. the american intelligence community had no idea that was coming. day were taken by surprise. 30 years later when india set off their nuclear bomb, cia totally blind sided. did not foresee iraq invading kuwait in 1990. did not foresee the attacks of september 11th, 2001. after 9/11 happened they were not part of getting at the truth
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about iraq. they were part of the pretext in iraq. they were part of the false start, part of what was not true about iraq, not what was actually happening there. the cia may be good at a lot of things, but over time, they are an agency that has built up a terrible record of letting american policymakers know what's really going on in the world and what is likely to happen next. when tim weiner's book "legacy of ashes" came out in 2007, became an instant "new york times" bestseller, it was a devastating critique of the agency. that book came out in 2007. the next year if 2008, the cia did it again. 2008, russian troops rolled into the nation of georgia to brush back the western-minded leaders of that state and support separatists inside the nation of georgia. again, in 2008, the cia completely surprised. had no idea what was coming. the analysts "missed it" on
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georgia. "we had plenty of warnings in 2008 russia would provoke a confrontation with georgia and end up invading, but we still didn't think he'd actually do it." the cia and therefore the u.s. government had no idea it was coming. now in 2014, the cia, once again, has done the exact same thing. or rather not done the exact same thing. they're surprised again. crime-huh? this is mcclatchy reporting from today. "u.s. intelligence officials also denied they made a mistake thursday, this past thursday when they advised congress in classified briefings that they did not expect russian president vladimir putin to send troops into crimea although they acknowledged it was possible. the next day russian troops took up positions around key facilities in crimea." one u.s. official told
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mcclatchy, "this was not predicted." now the russians invade crimea. there are maybe a couple of different lesson to take from this track record. one is for all the things we are good at as a nation, the united states is not very good at spying. we use what is supposed to be our spy agency for all sorts of things other than stealing secrets about other countries and maybe we're good at all those other things. killing people with drones and all the rest of it. having a deniable pretend paramilitary organization. when it comes to intelligence of what's going on in the world, our record of that is terrible and it's not getting better over time. that's one lesson. there's another lesson here, too, though. which is about the last time the cia was completely surprised by russia invading somewhere, when they invaded georgia in 2008.
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that's when george w. bush was president. you'll remember john mccain running for president at the time said we are all georgians now. john mccain is now saying, we are all ukrainians now. kind of his thing. just what he says. but there was significant international and specifically american upset when russia invaded georgia back in 2008. russia not only sent troops to cross the border into another sovereign country back in 2008, they waged a war. they waged a week-long war between russian and georgia forces. it was a shooting war. this was not just some tense standoff. there was much international outrage and bluster about that active aggression by russia in 2008, that projection of force, that illegal incursion into another country that didn't want them there. that was 2008. now it is six years later. six years after russia did that. and you know what? the russian troops are still there. they're still in georgia. the pro-russian
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pseudo-separatist enclaves inside georgia that vladimir putin decided he was going to bolster with russian troops, those russian troops are still there. yes, john mccain has moved on from saying we're all georgians. the world happily decamped to the russian city of sochi for the olympics without protests about those troops that russia has left inside georgia. countries including our own were outraged when putin did what he did toward georgia in 2008, but over time we lost interest. and so their world, their motivations, their internal logic of what russia does, that is foreign enough and unknowable enough to us that we consistently over the decades are completely blind sided by the things that russia does even when they do them on a very large scale. also, though, that world is different enough to us that it is, i think, hard for us to sometimes stay focused on. we lose interest. they care about what they do a lot more than we care about what they do. the russian logic of invading
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georgia was this. they knew they were going to be getting some international opprobrium, right? upset people by invading georgia back in 2008. their calculous was they could bear the international criticism for doing it. their desire to occupy parts of georgia was stronger than the level of interest and outrage the world could maintain about that question. is that also the calculation with russia having invaded part of ukraine? it worked for them in 2008. is that the same calculation they're making now, that we can't possibly care as much as they care about what they've just done? they'll stick it out and we'll forget it. the major european leader who's thought to be closest to vladimir putin, at least the most able to talk to him leader to leader, is angela merkel who you see here on your screen. angela merkel, the chancellor of germany. nobody quite knew what to make of it when she reportedly finished a long telephone call with vladimir putin a couple days ago and after that call picked up the phone again to call president obama because she wanted to tell president obama
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that having spent a whole lot of time on the phone with vladimir putin, she wanted president obama to know that in her opinion, "vladimir putin is in another world." she said he didn't seem like he was in touch with reality. in another world. now, was that just how he seemed to angela merkel in that conversation? was he just being particularly weird or loopy to her for some reason? was she saying that strategically to try to influence something about how the west was behaving toward russia in this international crisis? what did that mean for her to say that putin sounded like a space cadet when she talked to him on the phone about what he was doing in crimea? today those questions were largely settled when mr. putin held a long press conference in moscow in front of the cameras and was a space cadet to everybody. he shows the world the behavior and bizarre logic that frankly freaked out the german chancellor enough she had to call president obama to talk about it. the headline from longtime russia watcher and reporter julia ioffe was very much to the point, putin's press conference
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proved merkel right. he has lost his mind. putin squirmed. he was a rainbow of emotions. flustered. confused. so confused." here she's quoting or paraphrasing mr. putin. she says "viktor yanukovych is still the acting president of ukraine, but he can't talk to ukraine because ukraine has no president. and no elections will be valid. he suggested the protesters shot by police snipers in kiev had shot themselves. the opposition protesters arranged those shootings, themselves, in order to make the government look bad. he suggested america had orchestrated the whole thing. "sometimes i get the feeling these people in america are in their laboratory doing experiments like on rats." the "washington post" today
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called this a strange and rambling press conference. they quoted mr. putin claiming no russian troops have actually invaded crimea. no russian troops have crossed the border. he says, "you can go to a store and buy a uniform. were these russian soldiers? no, they're just well trained local self-defense forces." president obama responded to that claim today by saying of president putin, "i don't think that he's fooling anybody." but whether or not president putin is out to lunch, whether or not he really is trying to fool anybody, whether he's just saying patently, obviously untrue things as kind of a one-finger salute to the rest of the world and the world's media, his world view, his bizarre explanation of what he says he's doing, of what he says is going on in russia's corner of the world isn't just a rorschach test, isn't just a psychological exercise about how two different ends of the telescope make the world look like two very different places. these two totally different
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understandings of what's going on in the world, one from vladimir putin, one from everybody else in the world, these two different perspectives on what's happening there are manifesting on the ground in places like the ukrainian airbase in belbeck. when we signed off on this show last night, the live version of this show at 10:00 p.m. eastern time, at that moment at 10:00 p.m. eastern, we were hitting the deadline at which the russian military had told some of the ukrainian military that they needed to surrender. they needed to switch sides or else. as that deadline to surrender approached while we were on the air last night, russian troops, which of course vladimir putin says aren't russian troops at all, they entered that airfield in ukraine and forced the ukrainian soldiers at that airfield away at gunpoint. so it's a ukrainian base called belbeck. but the russians are holding it. and they kicked all of the ukrainians out of their own base.
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hours of that happened, ukrainians decided day were going to go back. whereupon this man who you see on your screen here with the gun, this guy there, see him firing into the air there? pointing his gun at them and firing his gun in the air. that man fired the first shots of this conflict in crimea. those are the first shots fired in this event. he fired them as warning shots into the air as this column of unarmed ukrainian soldiers approached the russians to try to get back into their own base. the ukrainians commander told the "washington post" "the men felt very bad, felt they abandoned their post. we swore an oath to serve." when they were forced back into their barracks the ukrainian soldiers argued about what to do. "we decided we would return to work. any man who did not want to come would not be branded a traitor or coward," he said, "but every man came." the 200 ukrainian troops marched up the hill. they wanted back in. return to their jobs, to service
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the airplanes and guard the airfield before the russians kicked them out. the ukrainian troops were unarm the. they walked up to the armed russians in a column holding no weapons whatsoever. the russians obviously are very much armed. the russians took up sniper positions around the standoff, around this column of ukrainian troops and ultimately no one was killed or wounded in that standoff at that air base in crimea yesterday. but this -- excuse me, this morning. this is the kind of drama that going on there on the ground. this is the kind of physical confrontation on the ground as russia digs in. apparently to stay in this part of ukraine. and the rest of the world tries to figure out not only how to respond, but what the russians might do next. and, boy, are we bad at predicting what the russians might do next. we're just a few days into this crisis. the u.s. hasn't yet lost interest in what's happening there. secretary of state john kerry spent an intense day on the ground today in ukraine. he announced $1 billion in loan
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guarantees for the new ukrainian government which vladimir putin says doesn't exist. congress says it will meet soon to prepare a package of aid for the contested new ukrainian government. at a very, very base level, there's a real question here as to whether or not our worlds are so different that the russians are not going to care what we do no matter what we do. there's this big threat, right, that we're going to leave the g-8 and not show up at the g-8. vladimir putin said today, i don't care if they show up at the g-8. let them show up, let them not show up, it doesn't matter. are we in such different worlds there's nothing we can do they would care about no matter what we do? and are we in such different worlds that we are always doomed to be purely reactive to an occasionally incoherent and often belligerent russia? if only because we have never understood them? and the only consistency in our relationship with them is our constant surprise at what they do which blind sides us every time?
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you'll find reviews on everything from home repair to healthcare. now that we're expecting, i like the fact i can go onto angie's list and look for pediatricians. the service providers that i've found on angie's list actually have blown me away. find out why more than two million members count on angie's list. angie's list -- reviews you can trust. there have been generations now of aggressive spy games between the united states and russia. from the american perspective, all those decades of spying for whatever reason haven't made us very good at predicting what russia's going to do on the world stage. as recently as thursday of last week, the cia reportedly told congress that they didn't think russia would invade ukraine. russia then invaded ukraine the
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following day. over the years, the cia has also missed little things like the soviets invading afghanistan, the collapse of the soviet union and the last time the russians invaded another country when they invaded in 2008. all that spying failure, all that intelligence failure doesn't mean the spying has slowed down between our countries. this is an american named ryan fogle. this is his i.d. badge. he worked at the u.s. embassy in moscow until this past may when he was arrested on a moscow street and tackled to the ground while wearing this sort of strangely colored backwards baseball hat and rather amazing blond wig. the russians arrested mr. fogle for supposedly being a covert spy, a cia spy. russian media released lots of still photos of him as well as this video of his arrest complete with an elaborate perp walk that the fsb made him do while still handcuffed and wearing the horrible wig and hat.
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we eventually get to see him waiting to be questioned about his alleged spying activities. also photographed all the supposed spy gear they caught him with which included some more bad wigs and a compass and a knife and a walkie-talkie and a map and dark glasses. what, no trench coat? it was all odd, right? from the spy gear kit of sorts that was laid out on the table to this very highly choreographed performed for the cameras arrest and the perp walk. right? it was like rejected scenes from "covert affairs" or "homeland" or something. it was weird to begin with. if that's not enough weirdness for you, the visuals they put out to the world, consider the timing. arrested monday night. on tuesday the u.s. ambassador, the russian government never seemed too fond of in the first place, the u.s. ambassador was scheduled the next day to do a twitter q&a to the public.
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he was scheduled to do that public q&a on twitter at 2:30 local time on tuesday. the ambassador kicked off the session by tweeting "i'm happy to answer your questions." at 2:30 local time, the exact same time the q&a was scheduled to start, that is when the russian government released at that very moment the news that they had arrested this american spy. the guy in the terrible wig. the exact same time. that is not only the latest in a lifetime's worth of bizarre spy stories between washington and moscow. it's also a pretty good granular indicator of what it must be like to try to be the u.s. ambassador in russia these days under a man named vladimir putin. joining us now for the interview tonight, michael mcfaul. he left his post as u.s. ambassador to russia last week. now a professor of political science at stanford university. professor mcfaul, thanks for being with us. >> thanks for having me. you've done your homework about me. >> i've at least tried to.
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i will not ask you to talk about the ryan fogle incident. i know you can't. i want to ask if it's fair to characterize the sort of timing and the way the russian authorities handled that issues vis-a-vis you as indicative of how hard it was to be a diplomat there. how hard it was to deal with and predict the activities of the russian federation? >> yeah, it was a hard time. absolutely. it was a very tense time after the demonstrations back in december of 2011 where hundreds of thousands of people went out in the streets to protest falsified elections and the regime under mr. putin, then prime minister, and later president putin reacted to that by claiming the demonstrators were controlled by the west, controlled by the obama administration and controlled by me. almost every day that accusation was made about me and the state-controlled media, and
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therefore the intensity of the attention to myself and to the rest of the people that worked with me at the embassy was profound and, you know, up to allegedly thousands of agents were assigned to us to follow us, to track us, in our day-to-day activities there. yeah, it was a pretty intense time. >> when the russian president or when other russian officials blamed the united states for orchestrating anti-russian events in the world and most recently, of course, they're blaming the entire situation on ukraine including their own invasion on some sort of american puppet master operation there. are they doing that simply for political effect because they know it will play well domestically? or do you think they believe it? >> you know, i've wrestled with that question for a long time. as i left moscow, we actually had this conversation with many of my colleagues including the chief of station of the cia, by the way. and in the beginning, when putin
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was running for president, i always just assumed it was part of the campaign. right? it's a way to deter people from meeting with the opposition, from engaging with the opposition. and those that none of them actually were allowed to run as candidates. let's be clear about that. the opposition was watching that election. but it was a way for putin to say, i'm the defender of russia against these western imperial powers. but over time, and i've had the opportunity to discuss this with president putin directly, myself, i actually do think he believes it. i think he believes that it's part of american foreign policy to use the cia, and he focuses a lot on the cia when he discusses these issues, to undermine regimes that we don't like. and by the we, it's the united states. democrat/republican, it doesn't matter. that's his view of the world. he believes it in ukraine. he believes it in egypt. he believes it in syria. and he believes it in russia.
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>> do you agree with the assessment that whatever they think of the cia over there, and whatever we think about the capabilities of our own intelligence community, we have found it difficult over time to predict russian behavior and particularly to understand president putin's world view and what he's likely to do. >> those are two very different things and i'm glad you used both of them because what is russian behavior? i've never met mr. russia. in cables my colleagues used to write from moscow, i would not allow them to say "russia thinks that," "russia behaves this way." there's russia, there's mr. putin. then there's the russian people and societal forces. it depends on which question you want to answer, whether you're good or bad at predicting russian behavior. both as an academic who's
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written about russia for a long time, by the way, and political change is what i focused my academic career on, and as a consumer of information produced by the cia, and other intelligence organizations when i worked for three years at the national security council, and then as ambassador, i would say we're good at some things and we're bad at other things. so we're goods at kind of big behavioral societal stuff. i think we have pretty good tools for that. we're not as good as you rightly pointed out in your earlier segment at predicting the individual behavior and decision-making of one actor. that is president putin. we did have conversations, just so you know, when i was still in the government, about the likelihood, probability, concerns of him going into crimea, into ukraine. we had those discussions. but to predict that, to say, oh, i know with certainty he's going to go into crimea on this date,
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we're not good at that. you're right. we're not good at that because we don't have, you know, a lot of connectivity with president putin personally. he's a very isolated individual. he meets with only a very small handful of american leaders. and the circle around him also, or not, people hanging out with the ambassador drinking vodka talks about what putin thinks. remember, all these guys are from the kgb. let's be clear about that. president putin, that's where he worked. a lot of his senior closest advisers came from that institution and therefore were not as good at understanding his individual decision-making. >> fascinating both in terms of understanding what we have understood and what we did or didn't predict about how we got to where we are but also in terms of thinking about how we might predict how he'll respond to action we tame now and what stimulus he'll respond to and how. fascinating stuff. michael mcfaul, former u.s.
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ambassador to russia, now professor of political science at stanford university. you're absolutely the best person in the world to talk to about these matters tonight short of vladimir putin. i appreciate you being here. >> yeah. thanks for having me. >> thanks very much. we'll be right back. ♪
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what is this place? where are we? this is where we bring together the fastest internet and the best in entertainment. we call it the x1 entertainment operating system. it looks like the future! we must have encountered a temporal vortex. further analytics are necessary. beam us up. ♪ that's my phone. hey. [ female announcer ] the x1 entertainment operating system, only from xfinity. tv and internet together like never before. after the news broke earlier this year about a connection between the george washington bridge lane closures and members of governors chris christie's own office, governor christie announced publicly he had cut ties with two of his very senior staffers.
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his deputy chief of staff bridget anne kelly who sent an e-mail that said "time for traffic problems in ft. lee," he fired her and his campaign manager. >> i was disturbed by the tone and behavior and attitude of callous indifference that was displayed in the e-mails by my former campaign manager bill stepien. and reading that, it made me lose my confidence in bill's judgment. and you cannot have someone at the top of your political operation who you do not have confidence in. >> governor chris christie announcing he had fired the man who he twice put in charge of electing him governor of new jersey, who he just put forward to run the republican party of the state of new jersey and widely expected if not to run entirely at least take part in
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managing the governor's own run for president of the united states in 2016. governor christie fired bill stepien the first day that the governor apologized about that bridge scandal. he said at the time bill stepien's tone was offensive to him, offensive to the governor so he no longer had confidence in mr. stepien. mr. christie is not known for having the most genial tone, himself. it didn't make sense why bill stepien's tone is the reason he was fired so quickly. that question of why chris christie fired his top political aide came at a sharper focus today, we learned not only is the governor's fired campaign manager not cooperating with the investigation into the bridge scandal, he apparently also is not cooperating with the fbi and federal prosecutors. wow. details ahead. i'm sinora and this is my son, chris.
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i'm a messy person. i don't like cleaning. i love my son, but he never cleans up. always leaves a trail of crumbs behind. you're going to have a problem with getting a wife. uh, yeah, i guess. [ laughs ] this is ridiculous. christopher glenn! [ doorbell rings ] what is that? swiffer sweep & trap. i think i can use this. it picks up everything. i like this. that's a lot of dirt. it's that easy! good job chris! i think a woman will probably come your way. [ both laugh ]
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this morning i've terminated the employment of bridget kelly effective immediately. i terminated her employment because immediately because i was this disturbed by the tone and behavior and attitude of
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callous indifference that was displayed in the e-mails by my former campaign manager bill stepien. you cannot have someone at the top of your political operation who you do not have confidence in. >> new jersey governor chris christie explaining why two members of his inner circle, bridget kelly and bill stepien were losing their jobs. that was the governor speaking in january. the reason behind bridget kelly's firing was obvious. she was publicly exposed as having written an e-mail that said "time for some traffic problems in ft. lee." according to governor christie, she lied and said she had nothing to do with those traffic problems in ft. lee when she was questioned about it. lying to chris christie, well that's the sort of thing that gets you fired apparently. the reasoning around bill stepien being fired has been less clear. literally two days before chris christie's press conference, the one we played that clip from, two days before that, where he
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announced he was firing bridget kelly and bill stepien, two days ahead of that, chris christie put bill stepien to take over. the governor called him, quote, the best republican operative in the country and said new jersey republicans would be fortunate to have him leading their party. mr. stepien had twice run the campaigns that elected chris christie governor of new jersey. he was tapped to lead the new jersey state party. he was expected to help run if not running governor christie's campaign for president if he ran in 2016. bill stepien is barely into his mid 30s but had been racing up the republican ladder to national prominence. now his political career is almost certainly over. and it's because chris christie didn't like the tone he took in an e-mail? in the e-mails that were released by the legislature, the day before governor christie fired him, bill stepien does turn up in those e-mails calling the mayor of ft. lee "an idiot." mr. stepien is looped in on
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other communication. he turns up here and there as being consulted on media strategy, dealing with the fallout from the bridge. there's really nothing in the documents released by the legislature that makes bill stepien seem like he was a prime mover in the bridge scandal. but governor christie fired him and fired him straight away saying the tone bill stepien took in the documents was so terribly offensive it would not allow governor christie to allow him to keep his job and his career. if we're going by what was in those documents, then we're supposed to believe governor christie was so offended by mr. stepien's use of the word idiot that that's why he had to be fired. >> let me tell you something. after you graduate from law school, you conduct yourself like that in a courtroom, your rear end is going to get thrown in jail, idiot. i tried to be patient with the guy. every time i tried to answer he started yelling over me again and everything. damn, man, i'm governor, could you shut up for a second? >> governor, on monday are you going to be addressing the legislature? >> did i say on topic?
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are you stupid? on topic. on topic. next question. thank you, thank you all very much. i'm sorry for the idiot over there. >> new jersey governor chris christie calls people idiot all the time to their face, particularly if there are cameras rolling. now we're supposed to think that kind of language is a firing offense. >> secondly, i was disturbed by the tone and behavior and attitude of callous indifference that was displayed in the e-mails by my former campaign manager bill stepien. and reading that, it made me lose my confidence in bill's judgment. >> as far as what's out there in the public record on bill stepien's role in the bridge scandal, really there isn't much. you see it on a few e-mails. he calls him an idiot. that's it. firing bill stepien because the
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governor said he was so bothered by that tone, has always seemed sketchy. now the sketch is being filled. what we knew as of last night, neither bridget kelly nor mr. stepien is cooperating. now, though, thanks to documents filed by bridget kelly's lawyer and bill stepien's lawyer we now know the reason mr. stepien is refusing to turn over documents from the new jersey legislature is because his lawyer says he appears to be the subject of a federal criminal investigation. by federal prosecutors and the fbi. quoting today's court filing, "as a matter of fact, mr. stepien is under investigation by the fbi and u.s. department of justice as evidenced by the government's telephone calls to him and his lawyer and the federal agent's recent visit to his landlord. mr. stepien's lawyer says a special agent called mr. stepien on the phone january 17th. two attorneys followed up with
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him, him, the lawyer, hoping to speak with mr. stepien. mid-february, an fbi agent and investigator from the doj paid a visit to mr. stepien's home, asked his landlord about his conduct and character. every incident, mr. stepien or his lawyer declined to talk. according to bridget kelly's lawyer, same goes for her. not only are bridget kelly and bill stepien invoking the fifth amendment and refusing to hand over documents to the legislature while the legislature investigates this issue, bill stepien and bridget kelly appear to be refusing to cooperate with federal prosecutors. and that's one thing if your case for why you're not complying is because you dislike the legislature or dislike the legislators, but if you're refusing to cooperate with the fbi and federal prosecutors, there is something that needs explaining there beyond the subjective tone of the word idiot used once in a new jersey
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e-mail. joining us now, shawn boburg, "bergen record" reporter. thank you for being here. >> thank you. >> you know new jersey politics very well and a lot of players. is it plausible to you that the use of the word idiot is what caused chris christie to lose confidence in his campaign manager, bill stepien? >> well, what's clear is christie's used harsh language in the past. the exact reasons for that fire ing we don't know. we can take christie for his word. you pointed out the inconsistencies. the recent developments, the fbi focusing on bill stepien, visiting his house, questioning his landlord. the question arises, is there something more? question we don't know the answer to yet. >> is there anything that has turned up in other documents that have surfaced since that initial tranche of documents in
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early january which you were first to publish? is there anything that points attention more directly to bill stepien has having played a more operational role in this than was initially apparent? >> no, there's nothing documented. remember the context here. we're talking about lane closures that as far as we can tell had a political motivation. >> uh-huh. >> the theory that's been proposed is that this was about an endorsement. or a lack of an endorsement by the ft. lee mayor. a campaign manager would probably be in a position to know and to control any operation that seeks endorsements. so there could be interests just based on speculation, but certainly the public record so far hasn't indicated that bill stepien had any previous knowledge or any hand in directing the lane closures. >> it seems to me like a matter of some seriousness for bridget kelly and also bill stepien to not just be trying to hold the legislature at arm's length,
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resisting those subpoenas, invoking their fifth amendment rights. but apparently now as you point out in your reporting today for "the record" apparently now also refusing to communicate with, refusing to cooperate with fbi agents and assistant u.s. attorneys, federal prosecutors who are looking into this. i don't know how frequently people do that in federal criminal investigations. do we know of anybody else who's in that boat in this one? >> no, we don't. this goes without saying, but listen, this is a serious investigation. any time you have federal prosecutors looking into a matter that your name has been attached to, i think any good defense attorney is going to counsel that these people take very methodical, deliberative steps and that they actually challenge prosecutors to build a case. remember, we don't know what prosecutors, what crime they're pursuing, what kind of case they might be building. so i think the defense attorneys are going to counsel the conservative approach here and that's why you might not be seeing cooperation. >> shawn boburg, reporter for
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"the bergen record." thank you for helping us understand this. this has taken dramatic turns as of late. appreciate it, shawn. >> thank you. >> much more ahead. we'll be right back. [ garner ] there's a lot of beautiful makeup out there,
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msnbc. and all of us, me especially, we are all very excited to finally be able to air this documentary publicly. it's already generating some upset and some controversy. but we're getting it out there on thursday night at last. i'm allowed to give you an exclusive sneak preview. that's coming up next. stay right there.
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>> at this time last night, this very moment, in fact, president obama was just wrapping up a high-stakes meeting in the white house situation room. president obama assembled his national security team to weigh his options about what to do in ukraine. that meeting lasted reportedly for more than two hours. that room, the situation room, is sort of the nerve center for the u.s. government when it comes to national security policy and urgent decision make. it's that room where some of the most consequential decisions are made in terms of when and where to use military force around the world. and it was in that room eight months before 9/11 where one of
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the most confounding decisions about u.s. national security was made. it was a meeting that had consequences that we are still living with today. and even at the time, it stunned some of the people who were involved in it. watch. 11 days into office, bush assembles his national security team for the first time. along with the vice president and national security adviser condoleezza rice, the principals include secretary of state colin powell, donald rumsfeld and treasury secretary paul o'neill. >> paul o'neill opened up everything for the book i wrote about him and the bush administration, including 19,000 documents. and in the first national security council meeting of the bush presidency, january 30 of 2001, o'neill arrives with colin powell. >> the focus of the national security council meeting that day is the middle east -- iraq. >> immediately there's talk of
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the arab/israeli conflict. bush said i don't think much is going to be done over there. bush says what do you think the big issue is? condee, i think iraq is the biggest issue and that's going to be our focus. the reaction of both o'neill and powell are startled. bush saying i want to overthrow saddam. find me a way to do it. not if. how. >> the very first weeks of the bush presidency was when the decision was made apparently to take out saddam hussein, months before 9/11. why was that decision made? it wasn't why they said. right? the public case for that war was a lie. so why did we really do? go? that has been an elusive question for much of the last decade. now we think we had an answer. "why we did it" premiers thursday at 9:00 eastern time. i'm going to be talking about it
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on "the daily show" as well. i think what we found is really important. eastern. "first look" is up next. good wednesday morning, everybody. right now on "first look," nato holds emergency talks on the ukraine crisis and russia's occupation of crimea as the white house weighs its options. new jersey student loses the first round in the court battle to force her parents to pay for her school and living costs. check it. united airlines gets tough on passengers with oversized carry-ons. why timber thieves are poaching california's giant redwoods. and breathtaking images of a niagara popsicle. thank you for joining us, everybody. i'm betty nguyen. vladimir